Obstructing DFO fishery officers from carrying out their duties is illegal, and results in over $110,000 in fines for a Richmond seafood processing company, its co-owner, and a supplier
April 12, 2021
Richmond, B.C. - On March 4, 2021, a serious case of obstruction of DFO fishery officers in the performance of their duties concluded in Richmond Provincial Court. The Honourable Judge Bonnie Craig found Tenshi Seafood Limited, and its co-owner, Dishi Liu, guilty of violations of Canada’s Fisheries Act.
The Court ordered the fish processing company to pay a fine of $75,000, plus provide the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada with a list of its customers from the past 2 years. The company was also ordered to publish a letter, addressed to all of its customers, setting out the facts related to the commission of the offences they were found guilty of. Justice Craig also ordered Ms. Liu to pay a fine of $25,000. Thuong Nguyen, master of the commercial fishing vessel Dream Chaser, was found guilty in Richmond Provincial Court on January 17, 2020, for also obstructing a fishery officer, and was fined $10,000.
The charges stem from a routine inspection on September 8, 2018, by a DFO fishery officer from the Steveston Detachment. Tenshi Seafood Limited is a well-established million dollar crab processing, distribution and exporting plant. On arrival at the facility, the officer observed a man running from the building and speeding away with what looked like a crab crate in the back of his vehicle. Once inside the plant, the owner, and some staff, actively obstructed the fishery officer from conducting an inspection, would not answer questions, failed to provide the necessary paperwork, weights or volume figures from the previous sale, and attempted to destroy evidence. Several undersized crabs were found discarded in the processing plant.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to prosecute offenders under the Fisheries Act. It ensures and promotes compliance with the Act and other laws and regulations through a combination of land, air, and sea patrols, as well as education and awareness activities.
As part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s work to end illegal activity, the Department asks the public for information on activities of this nature or any contravention of the Fisheries Act and regulations. Anyone with information can call the toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336, or email the details to DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.
All commercial seafood companies are required to follow comprehensive and stringent regulations covered under Provincial and Federal laws, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations, and the Fisheries Act. These regulations include a Duty to Assist during an inspection. Throughout this event the co-owner of Tenshi, Ms. Liu, refused to provided fishery officers with any of the necessary paperwork for the source of the crabs found on the premises, refused to answer questions from the officers, and attempted to destroy evidence by eating a receipt.
It is illegal to obstruct or hinder a fishery officer, fishery guardian, or an inspector, who is carrying out duties or functions under the Federal Fisheries Act.
One of the conditions of the 2018 Area J commercial crab licence prohibits the retention of undersized Dungeness Crabs. Mr. Nguyen is part of the Area J commercial fleet.
Security camera equipment was seized by fishery officers who arrived at the plant to support the investigating officer and footage from this was used to establish the activities at the plant, and those of Ms. Liu and Mr. Nguyen, that hindered the officers from performing their inspection.
The significant fines, and published acknowledgement of the violations that occurred, underscores the seriousness of violating fishing rules and regulations under Canada’s Fisheries Act intended to protect Canada’s economic sovereignty and preserve at-risk fish populations.
Strategic Media Relations Advisor
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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